Tag Archives: Majority Rules

Should 12% of our State Legislator’s Have Veto Power over the State Budget?

On July 2, 2015 Libertarian anti-tax advocate Tim Eyman snuck quietly into the Washington Secretary of State’s Election Office and filed petitions for Initiative 1366 that he claimed had some 334,000 signatures collected by paid signature gatherers. If validated I-1366 will be on the Nov 2015 ballot.

Eyman’s Initiative 1366 is a Senator Ted Cruz Style Extortion Measure to prevent any new revenue being adopted by the Washington State Legislature. It would cut $1 billion a year from the Washington State Budget unless Legislator’s do Eyman’s bidding.

 Eyman’s I-1366 wants Legislators to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to allow a super minority of only 12 % of our elected State Legislators ( 17 Senators out of 147 Legislators) to have the power to prevent any new revenue being raised for any reason. It would also allow those same 12% of elected State Legislators to prevent any tax reform, even if revenue neutral if it raised revenue from a new source, like a capital gains tax, a pollution tax on carbon or closed any tax loopholes.

Signature gatherers were paid with funds collected by Eyman from a few wealthy taxpayers that like their current low taxes while the rest of our state taxpayers pay a much higher proportion of their income in taxes.

Washington State has been ranked as the most regressive tax system in the country for many years now.  As Jon Talton noted this year in the Seattle Times:

“In the latest Who Pays? report by the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Washington state has “by far” the most regressive tax system in the nation. Poor residents here pay 16.8 percent of family income in state and local taxes while the wealthiest 1 percent pay only 2.4 percent.”

Tim Eyman’s latest initiative I-1366 is a quagmire of problems for Washington State.

I-1366 Problems:

  1. Is this proposal constitutional? Voters are not empowered to pass a Constitutional amendment unless first Legislators by a 2//3 vote place it on the ballot. Voters cannot force Legislators by initiative to vote a certain way.
  2. Are extortion tactics legal? Removing $1 billion/year from the state budget unless the Legislature votes a certain way is not the normal way representative government work. Extortion and bullying should be rejected. Essential state services like educating our kids would be directly impacted next year and  into the future as the Legislature resists Eyman’s Ted Cruz shut down the government tactics  to try to get his way..

The problems with passing a 2/3 Constitutional amendment.

  1. A 2/3 vote requirement in both Houses would  empower a super minority of 12% of  our State Legislators to overrule a majority of legislators. It would only take 17 Senators out of 147 Legislators to prevent any revenue increase or repeal any tax loophole. That means that 12% of all the Legislators could over rule a majority up to 65% of all the  legislators in both the House and Senate and prevent action. This is not what the founders of our State and our Constitution envisioned and should be rejected. It would give special powers to a minority of Legislators by allowing them to trump any action by a majority of legislators voting in both Houses.
  2. It would require a 2/3 vote of both Houses of the Legislature to repeal tax exemptions and loopholes even if they are no longer working or no longer a priority of state government. Only a majority vote is required to pass a tax exemption. Currently according to the Washington State Department of Revenue in their latest 2012 Tax Exemption Study, Washington state exempts as much in tax revenue as it collects. For example In that report it noted that in the previous biennium the state  collected some $6.5 billion in B&O taxes but exempted some $7.6 billion from collection.
  3. It would lock in our existing regressive tax system from any reform by the Legislature. A 2/3 vote in both Houses would be required to pass any new revenue source, even if the overall result was revenue neutral.

Vote NO on I-1366. Extortion style tactics that will take critical funding away from schools and educating our children have no place in our state. Pushing an absurd constitutional amendment through extortion tactics to give 12% of our state legislators veto power over majority votes for raising revenue for needed public services, repealing tax exemptions that are not working and preventing reform of our regressive tax system needs a resounding NO vote.

see also www.No1366.org

Washington State Senate Republicans Again Want to Ignore State Constitution

“”The Republicans in the Washington State Senate when the Legislature convenes on Monday will try to bypass the Washington State Constitution calling for majority votes to pass legislation. Two Republicans – Doug Erickson of Bellingham and Mike Baumgartner of Spokane – have announced that they  intend to try to amend Senate Rules to require a 2/3 vote of the Senate to bring any  legislation calling for a tax increase to the floor for a vote. In a great display of hypocrisy, this vote will require by their calculation only a majority of Senators to pass it.

Republicans in the Senate have a 26 to 23 majority but it seems they are not content with even that – wanting to give 1/3 of the sitting Senators veto power over the other 2/3.  Thus a minority of 17 Senators, if this rule change passes, would have veto power over the wishes of 32 Senators – a clear coup of rule by the minority.  As the Spokesman Review’s Jim Camden notes ” This would cover bills with new taxes …, raises in existing taxes and reduction or elimination in tax exemptions, sometimes known as loopholes — unless they had a referendum clause that was sending them to the ballot for voter approval”

This rule would require that any attempt to repeal non performing tax exemptions or reduce the exemption would also need to have a 2/3 vote to come to the senate floor for a vote. In again a  twisted sense of majority rules it would only require a simple majority to pass a tax exemption.  All of the current 650 plus tax exemptions in place only required a majority vote. Yet even if the Legislature through its JLARC review process determined that a specific exemption was not resulting in any benefit to state taxpayers, like increasing state employment and jobs, 1/3 of the members of the Senate could prevent the exemption being cut. This is the power of minority rule – whereby even if a majority wants to eliminate a tax exemption because it is not benefiting the state or meeting state priorities, the minority position wins.

The framers of the US Constitution looked at this issue in the Federalist papers.  Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers No.#22 noted:

“To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser.” …

“…The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority. In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must, in some way or other, go forward. If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good. And yet, in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: for upon some occasions things will not admit of accommodation; and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended, or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savor of weakness, sometimes border upon anarchy.”

Ironic isn’t it that Republicans who profess they want to uphold the Constitution would try to impose rules of legislative action that run opposite of what the framers of the US Constitution felt that government needed to do to be effective.  Majority rules for legislative action must be adhered to in passing legislation, not the imposition of rule by a minority to impose their will on the majority.

The Washington State Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue of majority votes being requires for passing legislation. It has ruled that requiring a supermajority like a 2/3 vote of all legislators is unconstitutional. This latest Republican proposed attempt to circumvent the Washington State Constitution shows the repeated hypocrisy of those that profess the need to adhere to the Constitution, in this case the Washington State Constitution, but repeatedly attempt to come up with ways to bypass it or ignore it to further their personal political agenda.

Voters need to take note of Washington Legislators like Senators Ericksen and Baumgartner who are not willing to abide by the intent and language of the Washington State Constitution and the Washington State Supreme Court and vote them out of office.

The Olympian Urges Voters to Reject Eyman and BP’s Initiative 1053

The Olympian has come out with an editorial strongly opposing Initiative 1053. It’s title “Initiative would give undemocratic veto power over budget” sums up one of the main arguments against Initiative 1053. Initiative 1053 would give 1/3 of the members of either House of the Washington State Legislature veto power over the state budget. What Eyman and special interests like Big Oil and Out of State Banks haven’t been able to achieve by electing a majority of legislators that support their position, they are trying to achieve by changing the rules by which Legislators can operate.

The Olympian’s editorial board recommends a vote against this Eyman initiative.

Why? We elect lawmakers to balance the budget. If we don’t like the way they do it, we can send them packing. But it’s unfair to take away one of their tools — tax increases. This initiative essentially gives a narrow minority — 17 senators or 34 House members, the difference of a simple majority and supermajority — veto authority on budget matters.

That’s not right nor is it democratic.

The Olympian continues with pointing out that the public expects the government to provide services yet doesn’t want to be taxed. People like Tim Eyman drone on endlessly and erroneously about the tax and spend Legislators. Yet as the Olympian notes:

Contrary to popular opinion tax increases are not the first solution for budget writers. In the past three years, lawmakers have dealt with a $12 billion shortfall. They’ve made $5.1 billion in program and service cuts; taken $3.6 billion in stimulus funds, transferred $1.7 billion from other funds; drawn down the ending fund balance and used money from the rainy day fund.

They’ve raised taxes by $800 million.

That’s a measured approach — certainly not “raise taxes as a first option.”

This nation and this state are on a financial precipice. We can tip in either direction. That economic uncertainty has consumers hunkered down and frightened.

This is no time to let a fraction of lawmakers dictate how this state’s budget is balanced.

Budget writing is a complex business with huge risks and people’s very lives at stake.

Tim Eyman’s “legislate by initiative” philosophy is an unwarranted intrusion into that complex decision-making process.

Vote “no” on Initiative 1053.

What the Olympian neglects to mention is that over a million dollars was spent to collect signatures using paid signature gatherers to put I-1053 on the ballot.  The big spenders as noted by Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times were not average citizens but special interests.

Why is Big Oil helping bankroll I-1053? It’s because they oppose Legislative efforts to slightly increase toxic waste taxes to help cleanup storm water runoff. They would rather citizens bear the brunt of toxic waste problems including cleanup while they deposit bank record  profits as they have in recent years.

“…Tim Eyman went more corporate than usual this year.

His Initiative 1053, to limit the Legislature’s tax-raising ability, has the type of stick-it-to-the-man appeal that you might think would get Joe Six-Pack to the ramparts.

Yet it’s on the ballot due to big cash from out-of-state oil companies such as BP, Tesoro and Conoco, which want to block any new oil taxes. Only about 12 percent of his more than $1 million came from individuals, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

I-1053 is an example of greed in action. Citizens need to vote NO on 1053 so polluters rather than citizens have to pay for cleanup or in it’s absence suffer continued polluting of Puget Sound and the environment.

For a list of other companies involved in greedy actions this years promoting special interest initiatives that pass the burden of taxes and/or lack of funding for public services  onto Washington taxpayers see http://www.stopgreed.org/

Initiative 960 Would Turn Control of the Legislature Over to a Conservative Republican Minority

Initiative 960 is really quite simple. It is a right wing Trojan Horse designed to overturn majority rule in the Washington State Legislature. The main beneficiary would be the Republican Party.

Forget that Initiative 960 is unconstitutional because it overturns the majority vote decision making process set up by the Washington State Constitution. If passed and not challenged in Court, as Initiative 601 was never challenged in a timely manner, it would give a one third minority of Legislators powerful control over the state budget and the ability to raise revenue or increase fees to keep pace with increased costs.

Disguised as a way to increase accountability of the Legislature, Initiative 960 is really a Trojan Horse whose purpose is to hand over control of one of the Legislature’s major powers – the ability to raise revenue -to one third of the Legislators. Of course those Legislators who would gain power under this scheme would be the minority Republicans who ideologically oppose any tax and fee increases no matter what the issue or need.

Forget that Democrats have a solid majority of Legislators in both the House and Senate. This bill would put the conservative anti-tax Republicans in charge of the Legislature when it comes to major budget matters.

Requiring a supermajority of two thirds of the Legislators to pass tax increases would mean that 33 Representatives out of 98 total and 16 Senators out of 49 total would be running the show. Forget Speaker Frank Chopp of the House – he would be toast if Initiative 960 passes. Forget Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown – she no longer would matter. Chopp would need 66 Representatives to pass any revenue increasing bill. Brown would need 33 Senators to do so.

Requiring a two votes to pass legislation to increase revenue is a difficult hurdle to pass. Realize that a two thirds vote of Congress is required to over ride a Presidential veto. It does not happen that often.

Initiative 960 would drastically change the Legislative process as set up by the Washington State Constitution by overturning majority rules for voting. The democratic idea of Legislative majorities making decisions no longer would be the case.

Initiative 960 in this sense is a radical idea. It would overturn the whole concept of representative democracy by majority rule and would give the power of raising revenue or not raising revenue in the state of Washington to what one could call a super powerful Minority Rules .

If Initiative 960 were to pass the new law of the land would be Minority Rules.

This idea of a super powerful Minority Rules is of course what the right wing anti government anti tax ideologues hope voters will create by passing Initiative 960. Running as Republicans with this agenda and ideology has seen them lose their majority status in Washington State. Rejected by voters in the majority of legislative districts across the state, Republicans are salivating, hoping voters pass Initiative 960.

Running as Republicans they could not outright win a majority of Legislative seats espousing these ideas. So now they are resorting to this backdoor ruse, this Trojan Horse, to try to regain the control they once had in the Legislature.

This effort is wholeheartedly endorsed by the Washington State Republican Party. They are letting their wunderkind do the front work.

Initiative 960 is the cute baby of Tim Eyman and his money man Michael Dunmire. Dunmire and his wife contributed some $500,000 to buy their way onto the ballot by paying signature gatherers, many from out of state, to collect the necessary signatures.

Dunmire lives in Woodinville, Washington and epitomizes the anti democratic master plan of those who would like to revive the rejected ideas of the anti-government anti-tax old guard Republicans who have lost favor with citizens that want to see government work to benefit the people of this state.

Initiative 960 is a throwback to the rejected ideals of the Grover Norquists of the world that want to drown government in a bath tub by rejecting all taxes.

The best thing that Washington voters can do is drown Initiative 960 and flush it down the toilet. Vote No on Initiative 960. Let’s move Washington forward and work for a better state.

see also:

Initiative 960: No Straightjackets – Seattle PI Oct 10, 2007

Potential Financial Impacts of I-960 – Office of Financial Management State of Washington

I-960 won’t fix real problems – The Olympian Aug 23, 2007

No I-960! website

Initiative 960: Inefficient and ambiguous – Washington State Budget and Policy Center

Initiative 960 -Vote No – Sierra Club

Organizations Opposing Initiative 960

The League of Women Voters of Washington Opposes Initiative 960

Reasons to Oppose Initiative 960 – Permanent Defense

Vote No I-960 – Futurewise

Snake Oil Salesman Eyman Tries to Revive Dead Initiative and Republicans

Perennial Con Artist Tim Eyman has something new he wants you to buy. No, it’s not a fraternity or sorority watch. He been digging in his graveyard of old money making initiatives and schemes and discovered that applying Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment to his scalp has really helped increase his mental acumen and insight. Or so he thinks.

He thinks it’s worked so well for him that he’s reviving another initiative to the people of Washington State that he has already failed to get support for in the past. (Initiative 807 in 2003). He’s been sending fundraising letters around the state telling people of his dead but now revived vision for Washington State without tax or fee increases. Seems all this snake oil could do was revive old Eyman schemes , not generate new ones.

He and his fellow traveling salesmen from Spokane – the Fagan Brothers – have filed an initiative today (Initiative 953) with the Washington State Secretary of State to give a minority of 1/3 of the State Legislature the ability to stop any tax and fee increases.

He thinks it’s a brilliant idea – just because the state voters overwhelming elected Democrats by a wide majority to run the Legislature and write and pass the state budget doesn’t mean that the losers still can’t win. Keep the faith. Rather than the majority passing the state budget, he wants a minority of 1/3 of our elected legislators to decide.

Yes, let a minority or one third of the state legislators decide what is or isn’t in the budget. That way the Republicans can still be in power to decide on the critical issues of what’s in the state budget and who and what gets funded or not. We all know Democrats stole the Governor’s race . It only follows that they must have stolen the Legislature also.

And all Tim has to do is convince you to do is sign and vote for his measure to put the Republicans back in charge. But he won’t tell you that it’s an attempt to overturn the vote of the majority and give a minority of 34 members out of 98 in the Washington State House of Representatives or 17 out of 49 members in the Washington State Senate veto power over running the state.

No he won’t be talking about this attempt to put the Republicans back in charge. His scalp treatments tell him that its not really what’s in the medicine you try to sell to people, it’s what you convince them to think is in it. Eyman is planning on come out with his own line of snake oil – Eyman’s Own Scalp and Hair Remedy

Rumor has it that Eyman has been trying to convince losing Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi to buy some bottles of Stanley Clark’s Snake Oil Lineament. Eyman says he has plenty in his garage but unfortunately for some of us he is restricting sales to Republicans only. Rossi wishes he had only started taking it before his last election.

Eyman’s previous attempt on this initiative was filed as I-807 filed in 2003. At that time we wrote how Eyman had printed up invalid initiative petitions that did not have the correct text on the back . He also tried to falsely sell the initiative as “No Income Tax”. The Legislature subsequently changed the law to stop petitioners from falsely representing what an initiative was about.

But let Eyman go ahead and try to con people again. The fact is that the initiative is patently unconstitutional and like others he has written, it would be thrown out in court.

Why? We also wrote about this previously  because any attempt to give one third of the Legislature veto power over the state budget is unconstitutional. Article II, Section 22 of the Washington State Constitution gives the legislature the power to pass laws by a majority vote. Eyman can not change the state constitution by initiative.